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When dealing with an emergency situation, reflexes are of the essence. If you’re relying on adrenaline to kick in and do its job when the disaster’s knocking on your door, your chances of survival may not be as good as you’d like to think. Knowledge is good, but it’s not enough.
If you usually read a lot about survival techniques, you should not give up on this habit. Staying up-to-date is a crucial aspect of preparedness and survival. But when you’re face to face with an unexpected disaster, emotions may flood your brain and make you forget everything you’ve read. Plus, your body reacts in unexpected ways when you’re mind is stressed-out. You may notice that your hand-eye coordination is faulty or even that your limbs get completely numb and won’t take any “orders”.
All of these problems are normal, most people react this way in emergency situations. But if you want to make sure you and your family survive any disaster, then you’ll have to train your body to react fast to any kind of danger. There’s no time for ifs and buts when your whole house is burning to pieces, shaking and crashing down or flooded by massive amounts of water.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that there are three different types of speed:
Reaction Time: This is the perception of a danger, or rather the interval between stimulus and the beginning of response.
Response Time: This is the time it takes to choose an appropriate response to the initiation of the actual movement.
Movement-Speed: Quite simply how fast your body moves getting out of the way of trouble.
You’re going to want to train all three of them if you want to increase your chances of survival. So here are a few easy, fun habits you can include in your daily routine to improve your reflexes.
#1: Go running in the woods
Jogging down the street is good for your health and your reflexes, but it’s nothing compared to a good run in the woods. It enhances both coordination and reflex speed and it’s also fun, relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning.
Now, you don’t need to go 300 miles away from the city, just look for a wooded part of a park and go for a jog there. You’ll see that it not only gets your feet going, but your entire body and your mind, as well. When you run on an unknown territory, you’re paying more attention to your surroundings, you’re making an effort to coordinate your body with the environment and you’re training your response time. For example, if you see a branch right in front of you, you’ll jump over it.
The only “secret” here is to run fast. Not in the my-heart-is-going-to-explode way, but as fast as you’re comfortable with. Even if you get tired after 2 minutes, it’s better to run fast for a short period of time than to jog for 30 minutes. The whole point here is testing and improving the speed of your reflexes, and you can’t do that while strolling.
#2: Try some ball games
Tennis, dodgeball, ping pong, even wall bouncing are great ways of improving your reflexes, if you play them right. That means you need to alternate the speed of the ball, so you can train your hand-eye coordination. If you get used to a certain rhythm, your reflexes get lazy, so you need to keep them entertained.
Here’ s a simple exercise you can do at home:
Get a bouncy ball and hit it repeatedly against a wall. Just throw it and catch it as fast as you can. Don’t make it easy: increase speed and/or velocity, take a few steps back or get closer to the wall, cover your eyes when you throw the ball… Use your imagination and, gradually, make it harder and harder. Challenge yourself. You’re going to have a lot of fun while doing something useful.
#3: Play video games
Your kids or grandkids can’t wait to show you some really great video games, I’m sure. And you have no idea how challenging, fun and beautifully designed these things are nowadays. Just recently, my neighbor’s son showed me how to play a game he’s been playing and replaying for a few months now and I must admit I was impressed. Everything looked so real and it sucked you into the story from the very first moment.
I know it may sound childish to you, but trust me, play a video game twice or three times a week and you’ll see how your response time gets better and better every time.
#4: Go back to childhood activities
You never realize how much you miss the things you used to do as a child until you go back to your good old habits: coloring, putting together puzzles and building models out of sticks, toothpicks and some carton boxes.
Back then, that was your main activity. Now, you can call it your relaxation moment of the day or your creativity oasis or whatever you like. Just take 15 minutes a day, preferably early in the morning or before you go to bed, and create something. Draw something, anything, and then color it. Or use things you find in your room to build a castle.
Don’t think of it as a kiddy game. It’s not. It’s a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination, to use your imagination and create something with limited materials and limited time.
#5: Put your brain to work
Stop using the calculator. Whenever you need to do some math, take out a piece of paper and a pencil and start calculating. When you start getting the hang of it, jump to the next step: use only your brain for the easy stuff and only put it on paper when your mind can’t handle it.
It may be difficult at first, but don’t give up. You’ll notice how your mind starts working it out when you feed it. The more you make it “chew”, the faster it digests the information. And if your mind gets speedy and efficient, so does your body. It all begins with your brain, so train it little by little every day and you’ll be amazed at the results.
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